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Judge won't delay Parkland school shooter's sentencing trial

'There is no basis to continue this matter,' judge tells lawyers for Nikolas Cruz
Judge Elizabeth Scherer speaks in court, June 29, 2022
Posted at 10:08 AM, Jul 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-02 10:08:53-04

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A South Florida judge has refused to delay the sentencing trial of Nikolas Cruz in the 2018 shooting at a high school in which 17 people were killed.

Cruz's lawyers had argued that recent mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, unleashed "a wave of emotion" nationally that could bias the just-seated jury against him and that the scheduled July 18 start is too soon.

But Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer said in a ruling dated Thursday that the lengthy process of seating a jury did not reveal any problems related to those recent massacres.

"There has not been any negative impact to his fair trial rights and there is no basis to continue this matter," Scherer wrote.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz is shown at the defense table during jury selection in the penalty phase of his trial at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday, June 29, 2022.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz is shown at the defense table during jury selection in the penalty phase of his trial at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday, June 29, 2022.

Cruz, 23, pleaded guilty in October to murdering 17 people at Parkland's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2018. A jury of seven men and five women was finalized this week to consider only whether Cruz deserves the death penalty or life behind bars.

The sentencing trial is expected to last about four months.